NATO committee suggests inclusion of Lithuania in 2002

  • 2000-11-23
BERLIN-VILNIUS (BNS)– The political committee of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly on Sunday approved a draft resolution suggesting that Lithuania, Slovenia and Slovakia should be invited to the alliance no later than in 2002.

The resolution will be proposed for adoption at the assembly's 46th session scheduled to start in Berlin on Nov. 21.

The bid to invite the three countries to NATO surfaced from a proposal by U.S. Senator William Roth during the debates at the committee. The initial draft of the resolution did not include this stipulation.

Lithuanian MP Rasa Jukneviciene, who was present at the Sunday's meeting, told BNS that the suggestion to take Lithuania, Slovenia and Slovakia into the 19-member alliance in 2002 was approved after heated discussions.

The draft resolution also suggests that other democratic countries of Eastern Europe were also invited in NATO in 2002 if they have managed to come up to the alliance's standards.

Jukneviciene, an interim member of the Lithuanian delegation at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, said that the assembly's session that started Tuesday was most likely to adopt the draft resolution.

In an interview with BNS, Lithuanian Foreign Vice Minister Vygaudas Usackas applauded the committee's decision.

"The train has finally moved. It is important to avoid mistakes at this point," said Usackas.

A document on NATO relations with countries of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council presented to the Political Committee suggests that Lithuania should raise its defense funding to 2 percent of its gross domestic product by 2002. The draft document was prepared after a delegation of the committee's Central and Eastern European Subcommittee visited Lithuania last June.

Director of the Lithu-anian Foreign Ministry's information and culture department, Petras Zapolskas, told BNS that the ruling by the NATO committee "is an evaluation of Lit- huanian foreign policy efforts."

"We hope that the Parliamentary Assembly will adopt the draft resolution prepared by the committee," said Zapolskas.

The NATO Parliament- ary Assembly unites parliamentarians of NATO member-states and associated countries, however, its decisions are not binding.

The assembly holds two annual sessions — in the fall and spring.

The 2001 spring session will be held in Vilnius on the proposal of Lithuania's former parliamentary chair- man Vytautas Landsbergis and the Lithuanian Parlia-ment's delegation at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.